Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Current color palette

 Hello dear ones.  Another quick mini-post to wind down the week! (I'm kind of digging these when I haven't got much to say but want to say hello!)  I realized that it's been a while since I walked through and snapped some recent home pics so I thought I'd do that...  then once I had uploaded them I realized that I'm surrounded by the same colors. Gray, blue, green and white... plus lots of pretty wood tones and both faux and real plant life.  (I'll probably kill all the live ones which is why I'm intermixing some faux!)

I'm just showcasing some sweet spots and little tweaks I'm loving, in case you needed any spring inspiration for creating a soothing color palette within your home.  Our small space is fairly open concept, and a designer once advised me to keep the colors all fairly similar with nothing too jarring.  I've followed that advice for years and the result has always been quite pleasing.

Above, I just added some sweet tweaks in the laundry room today...  I tossed a couple fiddle leaf fig faux branches into an old bucket I had in the garage, added a cute bowl with clothes pins and some detergent in a canister. After painting the floor, I keep this room open all the time, and I love seeing the cute transformation in here. (If you missed the floor post, do check it out, here.)

 In the windowsill I created a tiny herb garden.  (My goal... use these herbs at least twice in cooking, before they either die, or I replant them outside. Ha!)
 I am pretty proud that I grew a tiny, baby plant from the big giant one I have somehow been keeping alive.  All I did was clip some foliage and left it in a vase with water until they sprouted little roots... then I potted them!
 More blues and grays...

I recently simplified this space and I love the gray, white and blue here.  I also like having blank cubbies.  (We keep all of our home movies and wii games in those binders.  Makes for a lovely, soothing organized resource.)
 I'm aiming for another baby plant from these clippings.  Pretty soon I'll be giving one away to all of my friends!  (Actually that's a great idea.)
 Another faux plant sprig, "potted" in some rocks I had in the garage.  It's a lovely- no-kill option for the poor lighting in this office space.

Well as you can see, I really do love this color palette.  What colors speak to you?  I think once you know, you can build your home décor around them and create a restful haven for yourself and your loved ones, quite easily.


Monday, April 16, 2018

Continued... more to say on wardrobe matters...

I got asked a great question on my previous post, and thought it would be a lovely mini post topic, while we're on the subject of downsizing wardrobes.  The question, was asked by Shannon.  She writes, "What do you clean house/work in the year/do projects in? All I can imagine is a 50's housewife out in her peddle pushers & pearls but know that's not really the case. I feel like I can manage a smaller "nice" wardrobe but the bulk of my SAHM day demands things less...structured for lack of a better have you approached this?" 

When it comes to household duties, I definitely have some thoughts.  Firstly, after reading the Madame Chic books, my attitudes about how I presented myself to... even just my own self...  significantly changed.  I won't get into what all the author shares, as you can read them yourself, but I definitely had to stop and consider why I dressed well sometimes, as opposed to why I might have chosen to stay in somewhat sloppy items for some of those stay at home mom days.  It honestly changed my mindset. I try to look polished now, no matter the occasion. Polished for me, might vary from a polished look on another and that's why her books were so helpful. (You can check out her books and then decide for yourself how you feel about the way you dress when you're not going to see another soul all day, but I would bet you might think differently when you read some of her insights.) 

1) My children are older now, but I do think I would have changed a LOT of my wardrobe choices and routine, when they were smaller, had I know then, what I know now. I wouldn't have allowed myself those yoga pants days (months... years) and I would have pulled myself together at least enough to assemble a set of two or three nice, flattering, easy-care tops with a streamlined looking pair or two, of dark wash jeans and worn them in rotation all week long.  That would have worked just as well as the yoga pants with the holes but I certainly would have felt much better about greeting the delivery man at the front door or those friends who unexpectedly dropped in.  Know what I mean?  I had a ton of clothes back then because I was saving them for a special occasion or keeping them for "just in case." (Again, the books hit on this really well. You're a special enough occasion to dress well and reap the feel-good benefits from that all day.)

2) Practically speaking, if I know it's going to be a day of doing chores that will include things like heavy cleaners, I often opt to add that in to my morning workout routine, and wear those clothes until the chores are finished.  I get that done, and then get myself ready for the day. (I do keep an old pair of jeans and a tee that I can get paint on if need-be, but they don't get worn for anything else.) But regular daily chores such as kitchen counter wiping, floor sweeping and laundry don't warrant a sloppy maid-outfit.  You can do those low key chores just as well in a casual dress or jeans and blouse that you've been wearing all day long. (Maybe...dare I say, better? Look good... feel good... feel good... work good.) 

3) One tip I loved from the Madame Chic books, was apron wearing.  I pretty much throw on an apron every evening when making dinner, so as to keep my tops as stain-free as possible. This works really well and I haven't had anything stained or ruined beyond repair at this point, over the past couple of years of doing this.

4) I do own about four really cute, polished looking athletic sweatshirts.  (See above, for me in a quick phone snap, wearing my very favorite one. I have two in this color family but this is my most non-polished one, being branded boldly with PUMA. I don't love that exactly, but I do love the color and fit.)  I don't include things like sweatshirts into my "ten-item" wardrobe because they are more or less just all year items that I keep in my workout drawer.  Mostly for working out, walks around the neighborhood or track meets. That said, I am VERY selective about my sweatshirts.  They must be always clean, good quality items and though I don't wear them daily, they are polished enough (no fading, rips, holes, stains or fraying) that I sometimes wear them out and about.  I have two with cute cowl necks and a fitted silhouette (LL Bean from years ago) and they look really cute with jeans and ballet flats. (Also, don't laugh at me, but I often also wear them with pearl or diamond stud earrings and I almost always wear a silk camisole under all my sweatshirts when wearing them for non-workout times, because it makes me feel good about myself to have that swishy fabric against my skin.  I guess the point is, even a casual look can be polished enough to make you feel pulled together.) (And P.S. If you have a stretched out, stained, ripped, threadbare, or bad looking sweatshirt that you'd never run errands in if you knew you'd see someone you knew... that's your cue to THROW.IT.OUT.) 

5) Lastly, remember your basics.  Black tees... gray tees... white tees.  Things like that are great to pull on when a nice blouse or top won't do.  They are year-round items every woman should stock up on and have on hand and so versatile.    

And also, totally unrelated... I decisively chopped my hair last week. I was losing quite a bit of hair and the ends were all whispy so I cut about four inches right off the bottom in a nice, blunt cut.  I am loving this length. It's so much easier to manage! Anyway...  I hope you enjoyed this very long post answer to one single question.  Happy wardrobe managing! And if you missed my previous post, on my spring wardrobe review, you can click here. 

Sunday, April 15, 2018

My Spring ten item wardrobe review

Many of you may remember, that I got a hold of the Madame Chic books, by Jennifer L Scott a few years ago.  They changed my thinking, and thus my life and now it's all different and wonderful and I'm here to share my spring ten-item wardrobe today.  Now if you're just hearing about all this for the first time and going, "Wait... does this girl actually only have ten items of clothing?" You may want to  backtrack and read this post from last summer. 

I counted up my spring items and I've actually got right around ten core pieces, a couple of work-only dresses (so not sure they count) plus my basics, (think tanks, camisoles, tees) extras (think jackets, blazers, cardigans) and special occasion wear (black tie floor length dress, cocktail dress). (A couple of the items I'm sharing are possibly going away for various reasons (pants that keep falling down and a dress that stretches out with wear) but I'm including them here for now with an * at the end.) I've made a list below, so that you can see them all, laid out in black and white and I'll share sources where I am able. (I LOVE Ann Taylor. Quality, style, fit...  I think I could own one of everything if I wasn't a minimalist.)
1. Ruffled tank blouse (will be added to my summer wardrobe) -Ann Taylor
2. Striped flutter sleeve tee (will be added to my summer wardrobe) -Ann Taylor
3. White button down blouse - Amazon
4. Tie-front, stripe tunic -Ann Taylor (My current favorite with black leggings)
5. Easy stripe, button down oxford
6. & 7. Gray & fuchsia  blouses (several years old, bought at same time, same style)
8. Blush blouse- Consignment
+(Two jewel-toned, cardigan sweaters, for light, spring layering.  Part of my all-season supply of extras.)

9. Calvin Klein Skinnies
10. Olive Moto leggings * (keep falling down, looking for replacement.)
11. Black skinny pants

Everyday Dresses: 
Denim dress* (It seems to stretch with wear, so I'm debating on keeping it long term.)
Navy Travex, Dress -Eddie Bauer (I had a gray one that went up into the winter bin- LOVE this shirt dress! It's lightweight, travels beautifully and the sleeves roll so it's very versatile)
Printed cotton surplice dress -Boden (I adore this dress.  I've had it for a few years now, and it just works with everything.)

Work Attire:(Not shown as I seldom wear these, being borderline unemployed.)
Navy shirt dress- short sleeves.
Gray sleeveless belted sheath dress
Favorite Rothy's shoes... I've got the gray pointed toe and these rounded leopard flats.  I pair these shoes with just about every item in my closet. (And sweet bonus... you can get $20 off your next pair using this shopping link) (Or paste this into your browser);

If you're considering downsizing a bulging closet... I can't encourage you enough to put the time in and GO FOR IT!!  Where I once had a closet bulging with clothing I didn't wear and an ongoing love for shopping that I wished I didn't seem to have, I now have only a few, favorite items to care for, choose from, and manage.  I love going into my closet and seeing only minimal items that fit, flatter and make me feel good to wear.  I don't have a ton of choices, so I was able to invest in a few quality items when I did make a purchase. It took a couple of years to get to this point, but everything is simpler with this clothing system in place.  I keep a fall/winter bin and a summer bin on my closet shelves when not in those seasons.  I am organized and streamlined which make my days better.  I don't purchase clothing at random anymore. Instead, I shop only if I need to replace, or fill any wardrobe gaps or holes if an item is soiled beyond repair or worn out.  I

love that! It changed my life, and that's the truth.  

Friday, March 30, 2018

Creating a trendy statement tile look on old linoleum

Happy Easter weekend dear ones.  I hadn't planned on getting this post up before next week, but then sweet Ava and I got a bad head cold, which turned into a contagious lung infection and our whole Easter weekend is now cancelled.  That said, I have plenty of time on my hands for resting... and blogging! I couldn't be more pleased to share this post, and you have my permission to wholeheartedly flip out over this post about painting old linoleum and creating something beautiful and on-trend, with a statement tile look.  It's even better in person if you can imagine!  

A few weeks ago, my friend Kristin and I went for coffee at our friend Becca's house.  She is one of our uber-creative DIY friends who inspires us constantly with just plain, good ideas.  We three all worked together at  our previous organizing job and honestly both of those girls just keep me going in life. Becca also introduced us to the Madame Chic books, which I still say changed my LIFE.  Anyway, she shared a bathroom floor that she had painted with me, while I was there and I couldn't believe my eyes!  She used a different stencil, but talked me through the process she had used and my creative wheels began to turn.  Becca had previously been an Annie Sloan chalk paint instructor so she gave me the low-down on using chalk paint, and I knew I had to try this! 

We have lived in this sweet little house for nearly fifteen years and there are a few places that haven't been touched.  They are also the places we are seeing wear and tear, but as we plan to downsize into a condo in about two years, my husband is sticking pretty firmly to not putting any big amounts of money into this home for changes other than upkeep and simple cosmetic beautification for potential buyers.  I get that.  I presented him with this idea and promised to do all the sweat equity.  He finally agreed because my enthusiasm is contagious apparently. (grin) And also, because there were a lot of dings and scratches on the laundry room floor and I think he figured that I couldn't make it too much worse.  Our laundry room connects us with the garage, where we enter the home, so the door stays open much of the time. (You can read a post I wrote about how we stay organized in this space, here.) I'm happy to report, that after this project, I may never close our laundry room door again!

(No, seriously. I mean that.  I can't stop looking at it.) 
(Keeping hoodlums out...) 
(With the coats of the white paint...)
(Starting the stenciling part... following the natural lines of lino and beginning with whole blocks- horrible lighting, but in-process...) 
This project is the perfect solution if you've got an old floor that you don't have a budget for updating.  The only downside that I can see, is that it takes days to get it done right. 

Here's the schedule I used; 
Day one: Remove everything from room that can be moved. We opted not to move the washer and dryer out.) Sweep floor.  Clean tile with a mixture of TSP and water. (TSP can be purchased at a paint store.) Let dry.  Wipe floor with clean, warm water.  Let dry again. Tape off entire floor, wrap appliances in paper and tape off. Paint very thin coat of chalk paint.  Let dry overnight.

Day two: paint second, thin coat of chalk paint. Let dry overnight.

Day three: paint third coat of chalk paint. Let dry overnight.

Day four: Stencil design.  I used the grid pattern of my existing lino, to keep the pattern straight.  I also chose a stencil that was the same size as the existing "tile" pattern. I used a small, foam roller and rolled every whole block that I could.  Once that was dry, about six hours later, I went back and began working my way around the edges, cutting the stencil where I needed to.  If I hadn't followed the grid, this would have been easier but I was worried the original grid might show. (It wouldn't have so don't make it more work than you have to... just begin in a far corner and work your way out.) Let all dry, use a small brush for any touchups... and let all dry over night.

Day five: Roll coat of "one coat polyurethane" over all.  Let dry overnight. (I just went with one coat like it said, because I had tipped the can over in my car on accident in transit somehow, and had just enough left for the one coat. Gah!)

Day six: Remove tape and move things back in... enjoy!!

Some Sasha Tips to keep you sane: 
*I did watch some Youtubes on how to stencil a floor. They helped so I recommend that.  A "dry" roller that's been offloaded onto paper towels is KEY.  Minimal paint on the roller, keeps bleed through at bay. (You may still have an occasional smear or mistake to either fix or live with...  This isn't an exact science, but it's a heck of a lot less expensive than new tile, so there is that.)

*I tested my stencil on cardboard using both a stencil brush and a roller and the roller was the hands down winner for clarity, lack of bleed, and time-saving.

*I used a little masking tape on the bottom of my stencil to keep it in place each time.

*I washed it completely, in hot water, and dried it thoroughly, about every six blocks. This kept the pattern crisp which is important for this project.  You want nice, clean lines, not blurred messy edges.

*I did cut the stencil apart in many places and did use scotch tape to tape some of those sections back together, for other necessary cuts and it worked surprisingly well. It was tedious but worth it.  Actually it was a bit of a relaxing project on the whole, as I was alone, with nice music on.  It's a mostly mindless project.

*I used a mini-foam roller and tray from Lowe's (about $5) for the whole thing, washing out the cover and tray after each color was used.  In between coats, I zipped the whole batch of materials into a project keeper (Sherwin Williams) that kept the roller and tray from drying out.  I highly recommend this!  Especially for those first overnight dry coats.

*I did tape off all of the doors to keep people from accidentally walking in.

 (Real life key situation.) (I may be a blogger, but we still have to LIVE here and this is what it looks like. Ha!)

(I do have an idea for these spare keys and making them cute eventually... stay tuned!)

Here are the project links! 

*I used this "Augusta" patterned stencil from Cutting Edge Stencils.
*I used this Valspar Chalky paint from Lowe's. I chose the color "kid gloves" for the base, and "opera gown" for the pattern.  (Love these color choices!) I think I only used half of each of the quarts, for the whole project. 
*I used this one-coat polyurethane from Lowe's.
*I used this mini foam roller/tray for the whole project.

Okay dear ones... you know I'll do my best to answer any questions in the comments that you may have.  I hope this project gives you as much hope for loving what you have, as it did me.  Just some tweaking can freshen things up again and it doesn't have to be expensive to be lovely.  If you're dubious about how this would look in real life, I want to reassure you that it is fabulous.  It's even prettier in person, than in these photos.  If you can commit to six days of chaos while this project is under way, remember that each coat only takes about fifteen minutes to apply, the majority of those days is drying time.  That's not bad for a low-commitment project with a massive payoff.  One final thing to note... because the base color was so close to my trim color, there was zero bleed through with the taped off edges, in fact, that created a perfectly crisp edged line. 

We're going to have a super relaxed Easter weekend now, since we're all so sick... but since this is my very favorite holiday I suggested that we at least have family communion set up.  I wanted to share in case you wanted a simple idea for this as well. Just some juice, and/or seder wine in carafes, a bowl of crackers or matzah bread and candles if you like.  Add some goblets and people can gather or just go to the table on their own...  I sprinkled these decorative nails that I found a couple of years ago on Amazon (sorry, the link is goneon the bread board as well for a reminder of what we are celebrating this weekend.  


Tuesday, March 27, 2018

How to create a pretty Easter flower arrangement

Hello sweet things.  Today I am excited to share one of my favorite things, once again... a step by step, simple flower arrangement!  It can seem so daunting to create a little floral masterpiece, but it's actually really easy, if you follow a few steps.  Read on... 

1) Choose your flowers. Tip: select flowers that will compliment one another.  As your peruse the floral department, take a cue from pre-made bouquets and choose flowers that seem to belong together in color.  For mine, I knew I wanted to work with some greenery next to my home, so I selected some flowers in whites and pinks.

2) Choose your vessel. I used several bowls and made a few arrangements.  This was a bowl I began with, but later moved my flowers into something a bit higher.  Have fun playing with whatever containers you prefer!

3) Cut floral foam to size, and then soak it in water.  I make a sink full of water and let the foam soak up as much water as it can hold before transitioning it to the vessel I'll be using.

4) Lay out supplies such as nippers and scissors. I like these sturdy garden clippers as they cut through tough stems easily.

5) Separate your blooms and prepare them by stripping or trimming them at bottoms.  Just clean them up a bit so no foliage will be in water and trim each end before placing them into the floral foam.

6) Build your base.  I made this one rather full because I really liked the leaves on their own.  You can always remove any later, if need be.

7) Begin filling in with the rest of your flowers, turning them, and adjusting the arrangement so that all sides are balanced. Be artistic and let them arrangement take a shape of it's own. No need to stress about perfection, just enjoy this peaceful process.

8) Add or remove anything that is needed. Important tip; Place flowers into the foam once, and if they need to be pulled back out for any reason, make sure to insert them into a new hole.

9) Stand back and admire... Honestly, using hidden floral foam in a container is almost stupid easy.  I don't think it's possible to even mess this up.  If you're lacking confidence in choosing flowers and greenery, you can always purchase a pre-assembled bouquet, bring it home and use these steps to create something that looks like it came from a florist.


 And before I close, I wanted to share a few fun spring home pics... Tomorrow, Joe turns seventeen and hates cake.  So yesterday I assembled a little donut cake.  He LOVED it.  He didn't even want to break into it because he didn't want to mess it up.  I thought that was cute... and told him to ENJOY!  We went a little old school with these army men because I couldn't think of anything to decorate a seventeen year old's donut cake with... apparently this was perfect because he's lining them all up on the counter top as he removes his donuts... haha!

 I'm preparing to host a Seder dinner Friday, and then an Easter brunch Sunday afternoon.  (I guess it's not called brunch if it's after noon but whatever... ) I made sweet little Easter baskets for my kiddos and the littles that will be here Friday night.  A kraft basket, some filler paper and little unwrapped bunnies were perfection amid the chaos of Easter baskets I see in the stores. (They make for sweet décor while the holiday approaches too!)

The blooming branches were from the tree in my front yard and I love the soft pink against the "It is finished sign" I painted.  Simple statements of spring, rather than an overdone space, really help me focus on the reason for these holidays and I like that.  So easy to get caught up in all the glitz in the stores, no matter the season, isn't it?  Don't laugh at me... but today I found myself creating yet another blank wall space with nothing hanging... I tell you, it's a phase of life that is giving me so much breathing room. I won't lie, I love it!

Anyway, dear ones... I hope you all have a lovely Easter and enjoy your time with loved ones. I know we'll be sorely missing my daddy this year, but Easter is my all time favorite holiday and I plan to soak up every bit of love, rest and peace as I can get!  You do the same.   

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Bringing in the Spring

Happy Thursday dear ones.  I've just finalized my Spring ten item wardrobe so I'm hoping to share that with you soon, but in the meantime, I've been working on bringing some of this glorious near-springtime life into my home through tweaks and such.  I thought it would be fun to share some of the things I like to accomplish this time of year, ways I like to decorate for this season, and a few other random Spring essentials today, along with a few photos of the home right now.  Because who doesn't love a good Spring cleaning and house/life tweaking this time of year? I  know for me personally, I've been trying to regroup a little bit, in the vast spectrum of life.  Though in all fairness, I've been saying that since my Daddy passed away so it's just a process apparently.  Life hasn't been the same and I suppose you could say that I'm still adjusting, but also trying to smooth out the wrinkles and begin anew with this beloved season of the year.  I made a brief blog list the other day, of all things I had been doing, or planned on still doing for my version of Spring cleaning. (For me, it includes so much more than simple cleaning.)  I thought I'd share my list on the off chance that you might enjoy the motivation!

 I so enjoy a cheery welcome.  It feels a bit much for this space, long term, but just right for  Spring, with it's soft colors, collected pretties and pop of Janet Hill artwork.

 Ways to bring the outside in: 
*Foliage clippings (As seen all through my home, above)
*Forced branches (From my front yard tree- hoping to get some  blooms by Easter!)
*A sweet spring printable (I have this one in green, hanging in the main bathroom and I love it. And, it's free!)
*Grow some wheat grass in containers for inexpensive greenery- (it grows really quickly so keep that in mind.)

Spring checklist for overlooked chores: (Obviously, a good deep cleaning would precede these) This is just a feel good list.  Especially the orderly purse part!
*Clean tops of furniture and shelves
*Dust all light fixtures, including bathroom vanity lights
*Wash all decorative pillow covers, hanging curtains, shower curtains and rugs
*Clean and re-caulk around tubs and sinks
*Clean and organize your purse (hint, use small pouches to create kits for like items such as cosmetics or coupons, etc.)
*Organize your makeup and beauty products.  (Clean and wipe off tops, wash brushes, toss old products and consider tidying everything in a small organizing container like this one above, that I found at my grocery store for under $10) (I know I have a lot! I love products.)
*Clean sunglasses and invest in a protective case to keep future scratches at bay

Just for fun: 
*Try a new table centerpiece, and keep it really simple. (Or even remove everything from the table top and make food the centerpiece as you gather with loved ones.) (If you're looking for a pretty flower arrangement for Easter, I posted how to create one, here) 
*Move one piece of furniture or artwork into a new space in your home (I moved a small painting from another room into my dining area and have been loving it there. I wasn't getting the chance to daily enjoy it's beauty where it was located previously, so it's been like having a new piece of art!)

Feel good self-care: 
*Open windows for a Spring breeze
*Take a box of donation items to the Goodwill
*Buy a new spring blouse (I scored this pale pink one from a consignment shop for $4!)
*Try a bright lip color (I recently tried red and was surprised how much I liked it. You just never know!)
*Give yourself a good home manicure, weekly (I am religious about this habit.  I always make time someplace in the week for this!)
*Make a healthy treat and really savor it
*Put your favorite music on while making dinner to turn a chore into a treat
*Make a double batch of a favorite meal at once, and freeze one pan for a busy night or a friend in need
*Take time for a weekly face mask, as our skin sheds it's wintry dryness
*Keep projects simple (I love these kraft berry baskets, (Amazon) above, for simple little place settings for kiddos at Easter)
*Make a car bag with Spring essentials and emergency items- include an umbrella for spring showers, light gloves for chilly mornings and evenings and some healthy snacks to have on hand for those busy times

Overall, the things I've include force one to carve out and embrace the gift of time. Time for self, time for loved ones, time for home... One of the other gifts I am giving myself this year, is the gift of less.  Less pressure, less doing, less clutter all around (see previous spring organizing post series) and less holiday chaos. My Easter table this year will be nearly bare compared to previous years but that feels like a gift in it's simplicity.  My walls have less and less on them and that is a gift to my eyes to rest.  I created a large creamy canvas with my word of the year, "breathe" on it and even that is a gift in it's reminder to stop, inhale and be quietly present in the right now.  This is a time and season of heart renewal for so many of us and this post and list is really about renewing, while doing it intentionally, simply and bringing in the Spring...